Notice of Funds Available (RFP)

Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities
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2019-4:  TCDD Policy Fellows Program


Posted Applications Due Start Date End Date Amount MatchPoverty Match Council Staff
Dec 06, 2019 Apr 01, 2020 Mar 31, 2022 $77,500.00 $25,833.00$8,611.00 Scott Daigle

Application Steps

To submit a proposal for this RFP, review all of the information pertaining to the RFP below. Once you are ready to apply, complete the application in DD Suite (here) and attach a completed Supplemental Forms Packet to your DD Suite application. The packet can be found as an attachment at the bottom of this RFP.


TCDD has approved funding for the TCDD Policy Fellows Program. TCDD may award a maximum of $77,500 per year, per project, for up to 10 project(s), for up to two years. TCDD will negotiate the budget as needed and may choose not to award funding for these projects.

TCDD does not plan to provide funding for these projects beyond five years. TCDD does not automatically continue funding each year and may terminate funds prior to the end date in this RFP.

If you have questions after reading this RFP, contact Fernando Rodriguez, TCDD Operations Assistant, at or at 512-437-5432.

Who May Apply

Any organization that meets the requirements set forth in this RFP can apply. Types of organizations could include:

  • government agencies,
  • nonprofits,
  • colleges and universities,
  • faith-based institutions,
  • technical and/or professional schools, and
  • for profit businesses.
The organization that applies for this grant must administer the grant and receive, disburse and account for grant funds.

Individuals may not apply for this grant.


The purpose of the Fellowships is to increase the number of policy professionals with the requisite skills, knowledge, and experience to engage in disability-related policy activities. Since 2014, seven Fellowships have been awarded to five advocacy organizations. Most Fellows have continued or are planning to continue working within the disability field upon completion of their Fellowship.

National and state legislation, policies, and advocacy activities have a significant impact on the services and supports for individuals with developmental disabilities (DD) and their families. It is imperative that emerging policy professionals receive the training and mentoring that will help them effectively develop, implement, and evaluate policies of the future with respect to the DD Act and the experiences of Texans with disabilities and their families.

These past five years have shown us the strengths of the TCDD Policy Fellow program and additional opportunities to make it even more successful and sustainable. Texas must continue to place a stronger emphasis on attracting, training, mentoring, and retaining new policy professionals in the disability policy field.

We believe the TCDD Policy Fellow program is important because:

  • there is a lack of learning opportunities in traditional educational environments on disability-related theories, concepts, and policymaking for students with an interest in public service;
  • educating and communicating with decision-makers requires substantial resources;
  • being an effective policy person only happens with time and exposure;
  • there is a need to make the road of entry into disability-related public policy clearer and more accessible;
  • losing historical knowledge interferes with progress and innovation, and seasoned professionals need opportunities to transmit their historical knowledge to new professionals; and
  • policy professionals can promote positive values, create a culture of acceptance for individuals with I/DD, and further principles of self-determination and person-centered practices.

State Plan reference: Goal 3, Objective 3.12 (TCDD 2017-2021 State Plan).

Project Description and Milestones

TCDD aims to contribute to the improvements in state policy that govern programs and services for citizens with developmental disabilities by funding and supporting entities in training and mentoring people new to the disability policy field (i.e. Fellows). By providing entities with the funds and support to increase the knowledge and availability of new leaders to take on challenging assignments in public policy, the State of Texas will improve its capacity to create systems change so that people with disabilities are fully included in their communities and exercise control over their own lives.

Fellowship Programming

The Fellowship program would be tailored to provide exceptional learning and professional development opportunities for people who are ready to be leaders in a government or nonprofit agency. From disability policy conferences, networking, job shadowing, and disability policy academies hosted by TCDD, the TCDD Policy Fellow program would provide the skills and connections for Fellows to cultivate a meaningful career in disability policy and an opportunity to pursue their passion for making a difference.

Policy Fellows would begin their two-year Fellowship at least six months prior to the Texas Legislature convening for a 140-day regular legislative session so that there is time for Fellows to gain a foundational understanding of disability-related theories, concepts, public policy issues, and the legislative process.

The program would be designed for both college graduates with at least a bachelor’s degree in public policy, political science, social work, sociology, or other related field and those already employed in the public service sector wanting enrichment or advancement through a hands-on policy experience within a policy-focused environment. TCDD does not require the Fellow to have additional education beyond a High School Diploma or Certificate of High School Equivalency if they exhibit a wealth of applicable knowledge, skill and involvement in disability related supports, services, needs, issues and or advocacy. You are encouraged to hire a Fellow who is a self-advocate or family member. Additional preference would be given to applicants who plan to recruit Fellows with disabilities who are also people of color and/or people who are bilingual. A TCDD Policy Fellow cannot be selected a second time, regardless of any circumstances, including different grantee organization.

Advising Entities would be required to recruit and select Fellows through a competitive and objective process in consultation with TCDD. If the Fellow receives public benefits that will be reduced by this salary, the Fellow may work part-time. Entities would be required to distribute grant funds to pay the salary, benefits, and expenses of a Fellow. Commensurate salaries would be expected and benefits would need to be equal to the benefits offered to other employees of the entity. Entities would also need to ensure Fellows have access to appropriate human resources. Advising entities may contribute their own organizational resources to Fellowship training activities.

Role of TCDD in the Fellowship Experience

The Fellowship experience would be jointly developed by the Fellow, Advising Entity (grantee), and TCDD public policy staff, taking into consideration current TCDD projects and priorities, as well as the skills and interests of the Fellow. As the leading state expert in DD policy in the state, TCDD will assist Fellows to conduct activities and build projects based on their interests, skills, and other factors. Such projects could include but are not limited to: developing one-pagers and fact sheets on policy issues, coordinating public testimony to be given to a legislative committee, and attending meetings with key decisionmakers.

At a minimum, the Fellow could be responsible for the following:

  • Assisting with the development and dissemination of TCDD’s eNews related to public policy;
  • Attending and participating in meetings of the Disability Policy Consortium (DPC);
  • Attending and participating in TCDD’s Disability Policy Academies;
  • Attending relevant meetings/events and legislative hearings;
  • Participating in meetings with legislative offices related to policy issues;
  • Attending and working with TCDD’s Public Policy Committee to formulate and promote the policy priorities of TCDD;
  • Providing policy presentations, updates, and technical assistance to TCDD’s leadership and advocacy grant projects;
  • Attending the Disability Policy Seminar; and
  • Other special projects/activities/tasks as needed.

The Fellow will keep their Mentor(s) and Advising Entity aware of their progress as well as submit a final report to TCDD on their activities, accomplishments and challenges encountered during the Fellowship, and recommendations for improving the Fellowship program.


Mentors are intended to provide the Fellow with historical knowledge. They have been there and done that and have lived to tell the tale. Fellows should be mentored by professionals with at least 10 years of experience in public policy. For example, a Mentor could be a current or former elected official or office holder. The Mentor provides wisdom across broad career journeys and experiences and could be someone the Fellow aims to emulate in a significant way. Choosing a mentor is a very personal decision as it is not just about what that person accomplished but how they accomplished it. Mentors really need to be chosen by mentees, not assigned to them, to be successful. Mentors should be selected by the Fellows. The Advising Entity, the Fellow, and TCDD will formulate a list of possible mentors for the Fellow to consider and select from. Advising Entities may use grant funds to compensate Mentors for their mentoring efforts.

Advising Entities

Advising Entities provide the Fellow with expertise in a specific area. Advisors from the entity will create structure, assist with goal setting, help prioritize the work of the Fellow, and hold themselves and the Fellow accountable for making progress. The Advisor(s) would be responsible for providing advanced, senior-level guidance and technical assistance to the Fellow regarding policy development, implementation, and evaluation and advocacy activities. The Advisor(s) would be expected to have strong constructive feedback skills.

Eligible Advising Entities that could receive a grant from or enter into a memorandum of understanding with TCDD would include nonprofit organizations, government agencies, institutions of higher education, or other relevant organizations.

Advising Entities would be required to recruit and select Fellows through a competitive and objective process in consultation with TCDD. Entities would be required to distribute grant funds to pay the salary, benefits, and expenses of a Fellow. Commensurate salaries would be expected, and benefits would need to be equal to the benefits offered to other employees of the entity. Entities would also need to ensure Fellows have access to appropriate human resources. Advising entities may contribute their own organizational resources to Fellowship training activities.

The goal of the program is to bring new public policy professionals into the disability field. Therefore, Advising Entities may use Fellowship funding to hire a new employee as a full-time Fellow, or to provide advanced training to an existing employee--only if the employee is permitted to significantly expand their current work with the Entity to include disability policy. Applying entities would need to clearly and consistently demonstrate that the focus and goal of their project will be training and guiding the Fellow through the duration of TCDD’s funding – at minimum.

Policy Areas

Though the Fellowship may include research and action on a variety of disability-related policy areas, Advising Entities will work with the Fellow to prioritize and focus on a specific area. Focus areas for past Fellows have included employment, housing, and mental health. Priority areas for new Fellowships may include other areas where system change is needed including but not limited to, the following: criminal justice, civil rights, transportation, higher education, and aging.

Outputs and Outcomes

The overall goal of the Fellowship is to enhance the leadership capacity of the Fellow through a range of work experiences and responsibilities aiming to:

  1. Provide experience in the development of state policy related to individuals with disabilities, their families and those who work on their behalf;
  2. Broaden the Fellow's knowledge of the Developmental Disabilities Act, its impact and issues; and
  3. Develop key relationships with other state-level organizations including state agencies, advocacy groups, and other public and private entities related to the disabilities field.

Projects should include the following activities:

  • Fellows will seek out and integrate the experiences and voices of people with developmental disabilities and their family members.
  • Fellows will not engage in activities that would require registration with the Texas Ethics Commission as a lobbyist.
  • Fellows will meaningfully contribute to the mission of TCDD.
  • Fellows must develop a career plan to list their short- and long-term career goals and the actions they will take to achieve them.
  • Fellows must attend TCDD quarterly Council meetings, Disability Policy Academies, and other educational and community events sponsored by TCDD as needed.
  • Fellows will develop skills on how to communicate and digest technical and complicated issues to concisely put it into words so that the general public, legislators, and others can understand.
  • Fellows will Inform state policies or practices, and enhance the understanding of policymakers on disability-related public policy.
  • Measuring specific activities and collecting data to be reported on the outcomes described above (e.g. experience gained, knowledge, relationships, policies supported or created).
  • Developing and disseminating materials throughout the fellowship.
  • Attending seminars, conference, or other events that are related to disability policy. Fellows must attend the Disability Policy Seminar at least once over the course of their Fellowship.
  • By the end of the project, develop a report that captures the essence of the information learned throughout this project. Include recommendations for building upon current work and assisting the Council to determine where, when and how they can address positive change and continued learning.
  • Collaborate with other Council grantees in your efforts (as appropriate).

Important Dates

Informational Webinar: November 14, 2019

TCDD will hold an informational webinar to provide more information about TCDD's processes for proposal review and grant award. You are not required to attend in order to apply.

The informational webinar will be held November 14, 2019 at 1:00 CST. To register for the webinar, contact Scott Daigle at

Deadline to Submit Questions: November 15, 2019

Submit all questions about the RFP or application to Scott Daigle at by 5:00 p.m. Central Time on November 15, 2019.

TCDD will not answer questions about the RFP or application after that date and time. TCDD will post questions and answers on DD Suite as an attachment to this RFP by 5:00 p.m. Central Time on November 18, 2019.

Deadline to Submit a Proposal: December 6, 2019

Proposals must be received by 5 p.m. Central Time on December 6, 2019 to be considered by the Council in February 2020. TCDD does not consider late applications under any circumstances, including user error.

If you have questions about DD Suite and cannot find answers in the DD Suite Guide attached to this RFP, email Fernando Rodriguez, Operations Assistant at or call 512-437-5432. This should be done as early in the process as possible.

Award Notification: February 2020

TCDD intends to notify applicants about funding decisions after the February 2020 Council Meeting (review dates subject to change).


Grantees must provide a matching contribution each year. This may include:

  • funding from non-federal sources,
  • volunteer hours, or
  • other "in- kind" donations, such as office space and utilities.

Other federal funds may not be used as match. Items or funds that are used for match for another federally-funded project may not be used as match. TCDD prefers that the amount of match increase each year of the project.

Match Amount:

The General Information section of this RFP provides the amount of match expected for non-poverty counties and for poverty counties if you request the full amount. Requesting less than the full amount will reduce the amount of match you must provide. A Match Calculator is attached to this RFP to help you calculate match.

Poverty counties are counties in which at least 20% of the people in the county live in poverty. Attached to this RFP is a document that lists poverty counties.

  • Non-poverty counties: Project activities located in counties not designated as federal poverty areas require matching resources equal to at least 25% of total project costs.
  • Poverty counties: Project activities located in counties designated as federal poverty counties require matching resources equal to at least 10% of the total project costs.

Continuation Funding

Organizations that are awarded funding must apply for continuation funding each year. Continuation funding will not exceed the maximum per-year funding amount stated in the RFP. Continuation funding is based on the availability of TCDD funds and a review of:

  • the project's accomplishments,
  • progress toward stated goals and objectives,
  • management of funds,
  • compliance with reporting requirements,
  • the most recent program audit,
  • findings of TCDD's onsite reviews, if conducted, and
  • development of methods through which sustainability will be achieved.

Continuation funding is not automatic and TCDD may choose not to award continuation grants. Continuation proposals are generally due approximately three months before the end of the grant year. Fellowships will not be funded beyond the two years.

Expectations of All Grantees

Reporting: You must submit progress reports quarterly. You must submit financial documents, including reimbursement requests, at least quarterly. You must also provide required evaluation and survey data, information about systems change measures, contact information for project participants, annual continuation proposals, personal stories related to impact of project activities, and a final report. Failure to meet reporting and spending requirements may impact continuation or future grant awards.

Continuation proposals: You may be asked to provide information about public policy implications and sustainability in your application for continuation funding.

Advisory committee: You may be asked to develop a project advisory committee (PAC).

TCDD support: TCDD will serve as a resource to support grantees to be successful. You may be asked to participate in grants management training during the project period. You may also receive calls from TCDD staff about outcome and performance measures, public policy issues that relate to your project, products produced, and project events (if applicable). All grantees are required to attend a new grant kick-off at TCDD’s office in Austin, Texas. If your project is funded for additional years, you may be asked to present about your project’s progress at quarterly Council meeting (typically held in Austin). Kick-off meetings and Council meetings should be factored into your annual budget. TCDD may share opportunities for you to present at state and/or national conferences.

Project communications: Grantees will work with TCDD to develop and execute a communications plan for their project. Plans could include promoting grantee activities via external communications, raising awareness about products created as part of the project (if any), and developing required stories about the project’s impact at both the community and personal level. All communications products must be approved by TCDD.

Grants Manual: All Grantees are expected to adhere to the TCDD Grants Manual which is a 44-page document that provides information related to program policies and procedures, financial regulations, financial guidelines, and more. The manual is available online at

Terms and Conditions

Applicants must agree to the following terms and conditions:

  • Applicants must disclose any conflicts of interest between themselves and TCDD Council members, employees, or their immediate families.
  • Applicants must use People First Language or Identity-First Language (where appropriate) in all materials.
  • All printed materials must be available in Spanish and in an appropriate accessible format — including digital, tagged PDF, or large print. Funding for this should be included in the budget.
  • Videos, DVDs and teleconferencing and distance learning activities produced by this project must be fully accessible. Any videos or DVDs must be captioned.
  • TCDD will retain the rights to all products and other assets created using funding awarded through this RFP. The grantee will retain rights to materials that were created prior to receiving the grant and the rights to materials created without using funds that are associated with this project.
  • Proposals received by TCDD are subject to release consistent with provisions of the Texas Public Information Act.
  • Applicants my not use TCDD funds to supplant non-Federal funds that would otherwise be made available for the purposes for which the funds are provided.
  • Applicants may not use TCDD funds to provide, duplicate, or replace services for individuals with developmental disabilities and their families who are eligible for Federal assistance under other State programs.
  • Funds awarded under this RFP may not be used for direct services and supports.
  • Funds awarded under this RFP may not be used for food, beverages, or promotional items.
  • TCDD reserves the right not to fund any proposal under this announcement. All funding decisions will be based on the availability of funds and funding amounts for projects could increase or decrease.

See "Assurances" in the attached Supplemental Forms Packet for other terms and conditions relating to this RFP. The Assurances form must be signed and submitted as part of your application packet.

How to Apply

To have your application considered, complete the steps listed below by the due date. Applications and all associated documents must be submitted via DD Suite. Documents received by fax, email, hand delivery, or mail will not be accepted. Applications that do not include the items listed below, or that include incomplete items, will not be considered.

Application steps:

  • DD Suite: Complete all required sections of the application in DD Suite, which includes a workplan and project evaluation plan.
  • Supplemental Forms Packet
    • Complete all sections of the Supplemental Forms Packet, which includes financial information (budget), assurances, and other forms. All forms must be signed before being submitted. The packet is attached to this RFP. With the packet, you’ll submit a project profile and financial information, as well as certify you understand and will comply with TCDD Assurances and TCDD Required Approvals. The Budget Justification Information (Part II: Financial Information, Section D) must:
    • be detailed enough to show how calculations were made in the Budget Detail (Sections B and C), and
    • explain any zeros in the Fringe Benefits table of the Budget Detail (Section B).
    • Sign the documents in the Supplemental Forms Packet.
    • Upload the Supplemental Forms Packet and other required documents to DD Suite as attachments to your proposal.
    • Letters of Support: Letters of Support are optional. If you have Letters of Support or letters from other entities or individuals that state they will partner with you on the project, upload them to DD Suite as an attachment to your application. A maximum of up to five letters can be submitted as part of your application.

    Submit Your Application

    The Review Process

    Your proposal will be reviewed based only on the quality and details provided in your:

    • DD Suite application (workplan and narrative),
    • Supplemental Forms Packet, (including budget and justification) and
    • [Optional] Letters of Support and/or letters from organizations committing to partnering with you.

    You will not have the opportunity to provide additional information or to clarify questions about your proposal following submission. Below is the process for RFP review.

    Step 1: TCDD Staff Review

    TCDD staff review proposals upon submission for compliance with the requirements of the RFP and ensure that all sections are complete. Incomplete applications and applications that do not meet the requirements of the RFP will not be considered.

    Step 2: Independent Review Panel

    Proposals that meet the requirements will be reviewed by an Independent Review Panel consisting of three to five people with expertise related to the RFP. The panel’s review focuses on the quality of the proposed plan, the feasibility of completing the plan, and how well the proposed project may move TCDD closer to meeting the TCDD State Plan Goals and Objectives. The panel will only consider the contents of an applicant’s proposal.

    Step 3: Executive Committee Review and Decision

    The TCDD Executive Committee reviews information related to the steps above and makes the final funding decisions. If you have received a grant in the last five years, TCDD staff inform the Executive Committee about your performance on the past project.

    Note: TCDD may give priority to proposals that address the needs of people who are unserved or underserved. This may include, but is not limited to:

    • people living in rural areas,
    • people who experience poverty,
    • people of color, and
    • people with limited English proficiency.